A friend of mine was Jared Kushner's private tutor when he was in high school. She told me he was a C student and she worked to turn him into a B student. Although she failed to make much progress with him-- he was still a C student-- she was astounded when he was accepted by Harvard, as was the entire faculty at the Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. A few years later, in 2006, Daniel Golden wrote a book, The Price of Admission-- about how the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations-- that just happened to focus, in part, on her student. Jared's dad, a Trump crony and notoriously crooked New Jersey real estate developer destined for prison, Charles Kushner, had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard in 1998-- resulting in his two totally unqualified sons, Jared and Joshua, being admitted to the nation's most prestigious university. That was how C student Jared-- who my friend says was actually a moron with virtually no capacity for intellectual endeavor-- got into Harvard, something that greatly impressed-- and still impresses-- his father-in-law, Señor Trumpanzee, whose own family finagled his way into Wharton Business School, which is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania-- a lesser Ivy League school-- after he flunked out of Fordham.
In his book, Golden quoted a former Frisch School official about Jared: "There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not." Golden has no doubt that Harvard had an unspoken policy of "easing its standards" for the offspring of generous donors.
That's the story of Jared Kushner's life. And this morning, Kurt Andersen, a former Kushner business associate, wrote an essay about why it isn't a very good idea-- unconnected to Trump-- to get into business with Jared Kushner. Anderson was a co-founder and part owner of "an eclectic curatorial e-newsletter called Very Short List, which issued one email each day raving about one excellent, sometimes esoteric cultural thing." Kushner wanted to acquire it and merge it with the "stylish and unprofitable" weekly the New York Observer which he had used $10 million, in his ongoing quest for relevance, of his jailbird father's money to buy.
In a series of e-mails, Kushner at first pretended he didn't really want to buy it and then admitted he did, although instead of offering to pay them for it, he asked them pay him $200,000 for taking it off their hands! "At this point he had been in the media business for a total of a thousand days, and VSL’s daily circulation was more than four times the weekly Observer’s... In successive emails he bid himself up from offering zero cash investment to $25,000 and then to $100,000." He's some negotiator! And then he waved a white flag and agreed to the terms proposed by Very Short List's main owner, Barry Diller.
Kushner's fiancé then asked for Very Short List to plug her pathetic first book, "a self-help memoir summarized by this sentence: 'We’ve all been dealt a winning hand, and it is up to each of us to play it right and smart,' and included a sidebar by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who advised readers that they should 'stay away from negative people' and 'be nice.' I was emphatic with Michael Jackson, one of his partners) that one of us had to tell him uh-uh."
A day in the life of New York would-be businessman Jared Kushner, before capitulating:
Three months after the "deal" had closed "Jared’s minions sent us a deal memo-- but it was missing the key point, a mechanism for how we might one day get paid." There was a lot of back and forth-- Kushner trying to worm out of his agreements-- until he finally complained that they were being mean to him. Months passed-- months of sleazy Kushner-brand bullshit: promises, promises, no action.
Ten months after he’d acquired and started earning money from our publication, having received scores of emails with JK at the bottom, we got a deal letter with the terms agreed to a year earlier, and signed. Some months later, in 2011, he hired my friend Elizabeth Spiers to be editor of the Observer, which revived my hopes-- until right after a 2012 “relaunch” of Very Short List, when Elizabeth inevitably bid him good riddance (as she chronicles here and here and here).
Right after the 2016 election, the New York Times ran a story about Jared and Ivanka’s sudden new proximity to power, featuring various fancy Manhattanites saying nice things about them (“she’s elegant and classy…not a hateful, racist person”)-- but with “the mogul Barry Diller…who in 2009 did a business deal with Mr. Kushner,” telling the refreshing plain truth: “I think it’s delusional to believe there’s any difference between Mr. Trump and his children on any of his extreme positions.” I smiled.
Kushner and company kept publishing an enfeebled VSL until right around then, after which the whole Observer operation faded into oblivion.
Needless to say, my friends and I never made a dime.
So, when Kushner announced recently he is re-entering the private sector... Anderson wrote, "What does that even mean for a real estate heir married to a real estate heiress with a combined inherited fortune of $200 to $800 million that generates an income of $2 to $5 million a month? Or who as the U.S. Middle East policy czar in 2017, weeks after Qatar declined to bail out his family company’s disastrous Manhattan skyscraper investment, got his father-in-law the president to support a strange seven-month military blockade of our ally Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries-- shortly after which hundreds of millions in Qatari government money gushed into the Kushner Companies and whisked away their failed Manhattan investment? The vehicle for Jared Kushner’s official private-sector re-entry is his new financial firm Affinity Partners, which will seek, among other things, to 'pursue regional investments to connect Israel’s economy…and the Gulf.' It will be based in Miami, where he and Ivanka Trump have paid Julio Iglesias $32 million for a 2-acre lot on a 294-acre private island in Biscayne Bay."